An Oxfordshire-wide befriending charity for older people is looking for keen volunteers to make a vital contribution to its service.
Phone Friends, a service provided by Age UK Oxfordshire, with support from Sanctuary Housing, offers local older people a regular, free phone call from one of around 40 volunteers currently supporting the charity.
What is Phone Friends?
Designed to alleviate loneliness for isolated people over the age of 50 in the county, Phone Friends is a telephone befriending service that sees volunteers phone the same people once a week for a friendly chat.
Calling from an office in Banbury, the volunteers build up a supportive friendship for eight older people for two hours a week, checking they are well and offering signposting to other local services as necessary.
One beneficiary from the service is Margaret, who lives near Banbury. When her husband died three years ago she was left alone in the house she has lived in since 1955. She is not very mobile and relies on her granddaughter to take her shopping, whilst a neighbour calls round once a week to see her.
Margaret receives a call every Wednesday afternoon from her Phone Friend, who she’s now been speaking to for over two years.
“Gives me something to look forward to”
Margaret said: “We get on like old friends. We talk about everything under the sun, from war-time memories to what I am preparing for tea that evening. Knowing I am going to receive that call each Wednesday gives me something to look forward to.”
“Really make a difference”
Paula Donaldson, Phone Friend’s co-ordinator, commented: “We need more volunteers to join our friendly and caring team so that we can reach more lonely people and really make a difference. These calls are really appreciated and enjoyed by both the Phone Friend and the volunteer.”
“Providing support to local residents”
Kate Winstanley, Sanctuary’s neighbourhood partnership manager, added: “Projects like Phone Friends are fantastic for providing support to local residents and helping them live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives.
“It’s amazing how one phone call a week from a friendly Age UK volunteer can really make such a difference to these older people’s lives and gives them something to look forward to. The volunteers become their friends.”
Find out more
If you would like to receive these free friendly weekly calls or would just like to find out more, please contact Paula Donaldson on 07557 038278.